March 25, 2022 to March 25, 2023
Closing ThoughtsOpinion

March 25, 2022 to March 25, 2023

Shaindle shares the significance of a very important date for her family.

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Shaindle Schmuckler
Shaindle Schmuckler

It seems like only yesterday that on an otherwise average calendar date, this date was burned into my heart, forever changing its landscape, causing a dark spot where one did not exist. A heart which held so much love, it hardly had any room or time for sadness or difficult news.

And now, this date has burrowed itself and created a space reserved to record, albeit kicking and screaming, the most difficult, the most tragic news. I am referencing a date my family and I will always remember, March 25, 2022.

Pray tell, what were you, my dear readers, doing on March 25, 2022! If you can’t recall, and you are wondering what’s so special about this date, do not fret. Most folks do not have any reason to have that particular date stand out from all the other dates of 2022. Perhaps you’ve even checked your old calendars, where you discovered nothing special recorded. Nothing special.

Gene, my hubby, whom I sometimes would refer to as Geno, a nickname I bestowed upon him very early in our relationship. I also would occasionally call him by his last name, Schmuckler. After all, we met at an overnight camp, where everyone (well, almost everyone) had nicknames, or were addressed by their last names. He did not mind it at camp, but he hated to be referred to as Schmuckler in the ‘real’ world.

Gene and I married young; by today’s standards we were just children. Geno and I started our family directly out of graduate school at Louisiana State University. Go Tigers! We had our children young (four rad girls). We had the best of times with these four little humans. When I would go anywhere with these four beauties, smiles would cross the faces of strangers. When we entered synagogue, folks would turn their heads and smile at the mama duck and her four ducklings. Four little beauties dressed to the nines. My four baby dolls.

We were blessed with the gift of witnessing the magic associated with growing from infants to toddlers; of riding their bikes to elementary school, on to middle and high school. We kvelled as they went on to college and careers. We were overjoyed with the partners they chose, my incredible sons in love, and especially, when they blessed us with 10 of the kindest, most sensitive, beautiful, smart (I could go on and on however, I will save you from too many on and ons) grandchildren.

Our life together began in Jackson Heights, Long Island, N.Y. We moved to Louisiana at the end of our first year as man and wife. We then meandered up to New London, Conn., with our first baby girl, where Electric Boat was building submarines (by the way, one flies submarines), and we had our second baby girl.

From there, Gene was recruited to participate in building a formidable psychology department at the University of West Florida in Pensacola Fla., where our third baby girl was born. From U.W.F., Gene was asked to join a large consulting firm and our fourth baby girl was born.

Although my dad and beloved mother-in-law were dazed and confused with us having four children (wondering why? Their fear of my becoming frum). He begged us to stop moving and buy a T.V. From experience, he should have known better. And, of course, we made just one more move-to Hotlanta, Georgia. To my dismay, and to their collective sighs of relief, no more babies.

And here we made our permanent home…and life was good to us. We made some dear, true friends. Our girls attended and graduated University of Georgia, Go Dawgs! The went on for their master’s degrees, all four entering the helping fields; and, while working, built these incredibly special, strong families.

And then, due to the fact we were all so cozy in our lives, we did not recognize the clouds hinting that there was a storm brewing. Gene was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This brilliant, healthy vibrant man. How is this possible?

We all made it through COVID. As the scientists were able to get COVID somewhat under control, Alzheimer’s was ravaging my Gene.

On March 25, 2022, Gene closed his eyes for the last time.

On March 25, 2023, our family, which numbered 20 strong, and now are 19 strong, will honor his life.

I’m thinking balloons are in order. Nineteen members of his family sharing little snippets of funny and serious memories. Maybe a Yiddish song or two.

Perfect, would you agree?

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